CIPHR webinar: how social media and content marketing techniques can enhance your employer brand2018-11-12T08:54:43+00:00

CIPHR webinar – How social media and content marketing techniques can enhance your employer brand

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David: Hello, everyone and thank you for joining us for today’s webinar about the importance of a strong employer brand. And how HR can use social media and content marketing to create a talent pool of A-players. My name is David Richter, I’m the head of marketing at CIPHR and we’re joined today by Ben Hollom, he’s the founder of M2 Bespoke, a creative marketing agency who’s specialized in helping companies to build great brands by leveraging content marketing and social media. For those of you who don’t know CIPHR, we develop SaaS HR and recruitment systems that help SMEs to recruit, engage, retain, and manage their workforce across the whole employee lifecycle. We work with hundreds of very brand conscious organizations who use CIPHR to engage, retain, and manage their workforce across the entire employee lifecycle. One of the things that sets CIPHR apart is the flexibility of our system to reflect our clients’ brands.

CIPHR helps them to showcase their own unique cultures and values and helps them to communicate the value and that they give back to their employees. We go beyond simply slapping a logo on the system and enable our customers to configure things like whole color scheme, DRL, and the navigation of their systems. Our customers can also embed videos, images, and social media feeds within CIPHR to the point that for most of our customers’ employees, they’ve got no idea that CIPHR even exists and they just assume that the HR system they’re using to store their details of the holidays was developed by their employer.

Ben, covers this in a bit more detail later on. But when I describe what a brand is, I explain it as being a sum total of someone’s experiences with an organization. This includes the adverts that they’ve seen throughout their life to the experiences of speaking to an organization’s employees in the customer service department. For your employees, your employer brand is going to be shaped by things like how they’re treated, what their work environment is like and the tools that they’re given to perform their job. To that end having a recruitment portal or HR system that feels like an extension of your brand isn’t in itself enough to build a strong employer brand, but it is an essential component that contributes to how your employees and candidates will feel about you. I’m really pleased that Ben could join us today.

Ben: Welcome everybody. As David just teed up, my company’s M2 Bespoke. We specialize in content marketing and our clients tend to fall into two categories. We do a lot of work obviously with the traditional marketing teams, but more and more over the last couple of years we’ve been working with HR teams to help them with this topic of employer branding and how it can help them with their recruitment efforts, and content, and social media obviously, is playing a larger and larger part of that. So, we’re going to dive straight in. The slides will be available to you afterwards, so, a couple of them we’re gonna move over quite quickly but the information that’s contained within the slides you’ll be able to review at your leisure later.

So, what we’re gonna discuss today, we’re going to look at the changing face of recruitment. Again, probably teaching you to suck eggs, you’d be well aware of the changing face. We’re gonna look at why building a strong employer brand is so important. The role that social media and particularly LinkedIn and Twitter we’re gonna delve into. And how they can help you build that brand but, specifically also which is kind of quite actionable in terms of getting into the nuts and bolts, how it can help you to build a talent pool? So, it’s kind of quite practical from that point of view. And we’re gonna just very quickly, because it could be a half-day session of its own, and look at a sustainable content calendar and just some tips and pointers on how you can drive this activity with content because that’s often the bit that people struggle with and what they should say.

So, what do we mean by the changing face of recruitment? UK Labour Market obviously, it’s in a relatively healthy place at the moment, unlike a few years ago. So, Institute of Recruitment Professionals has found 8 in 10 companies looking to hire more permanent staff. Employment we know is at a record high which is all good and positive but, obviously if you guys are recruiting in many sectors that equals a skill shortage and it makes your job more difficult in terms of finding the right staff. The knock-on effect of that is also a lot of companies looking at pay rises in order to both attract but also more importantly to hang on to or retain their top talent. So, it’s a challenging scenario and a challenging environment to be in as a recruiter or an HR team. And what this is brought about is a change of mentality and a change of behavior and I’ve certainly been in a situation and I’m sure that you have where you’re kind of…in an interview but you realize that it’s turned into a sales pitch from you to the candidate. And it’s that kind of, who’s actually interviewing and who here, scenario which I think is becoming more and more and prevalent. So, their behavior is different, job seekers are now acting like job shoppers. And we are in an age of greater transparency with social media and such like, and consumers, normal consumer goods, want to buy from companies that they trust and respect is not all about the product. It’s exactly the same with top talent.

They want to know who they’re gonna work for and they want to be able to trust that company and respect them. It’s an interesting, last year from CAREEREALISM. It shows 80% of job seekers will research an employer online before deciding whether to apply to a position there. So, if they go online and they can’t find enough information about you to convince them that they want to work for you, they’ll pass. You never even see them. You don’t see an application. You don’t get the chance to win them over, to do any of those kind of softer skills and influence them. They’re gonna research and make a decision online long before they ever get to you. So, that’s why it’s so important they’re able…and making decisions that are consumer led and as we mentioned that puts… the shift of the power goes towards the talent and it makes the competition to acquire that talent, that much tougher.

A little quote here from Kevin at the Institute of Recruiting Professionals again. And basically just pointing out that options are running out and lots of businesses are feeling the pressure and needing to be more innovative and creative in what they do. So, it’s not enough anymore to just rely on the tried and tested traditional methods. You can’t just throw ads at job boards. Everybody’s got access to them, there’s no competitive advantage. So, we’re not saying you don’t use the traditional methods, but you need to be supplementing them, you need to be building these kind of longer-term strategies alongside it, and start to and build some traction from that point of view.

So, this brings us on to this kind of topic area that I often talk about with this subject, which is the difference between applicants and candidates. And it surprises me how often people kind of confuse the two. They talk about applicants all the time when it comes to jobs. And the way that I would look at this is that, applicants apply for jobs, but candidates are people who are suitable for jobs whatever their current situation. So, they’re out there, they might be perfectly happy, they might not be looking but if they’re suitable or have the skills that you would want to engage with them, they are a candidate or potential candidate. And this difference really kicks in when you’re starting to recruit because if you’re relying on traditional methods to advertise and fill jobs that just rely on applicants, in the current market and dependent obviously on the sector that you’re in and the shortage of skills, you do run the risk that you’re actually picking up the dregs. You’re picking up people that by the time they’ve hit applying for multiple jobs, you’re just in the pot with 20 other people that they applied to because they’re desperate for a job. They might not be out of work or they might not be comfortable where they are. But you’re just in the pot you’ve got no advantage over anybody else. What you want to be doing is looking at candidates, so, you want to hire people who are in demand, that actually they’re desperate to work for you when the time is right. Now that’s obviously easier said than done, and tapping into that and at the right time is what we’re going to talk about during this session today.

So, there’s an interesting graph here which talks about the, or shows the thought process in very simple terms, that a candidate might go through on their journey to becoming an applicant. So, on the left-hand side, obviously there’s the point when they’re not looking and they’re happy where… they start thinking about the possibility of moving. And then there is a point where they’ve decided that they would like to do something, they want to make a move but they haven’t yet taken any action. And that is the absolute sweet spot for you to be engaging with them because at that point, you’re not just in the pot with all of your competitors fighting over that person. As you then start to slide down the right-hand side, they get closer and closer to what I would call the dregs at that point. So, they start taking action by the end they’re on multiple channels, they’re on every job board, they’ve got 10 different recruitment consultants representing them. They’re interviewing everywhere and really it becomes a lot more about potluck. Obviously, the issue is that on the left-hand side of that graph, right up until the point when they start taking action, they’re invisible to you. So, the challenge is how do you actually start building a relationship, building this trust, building this credibility, building this, one day I’d love to work for these guys, when they haven’t done anything proactive to put themselves on your radar. And at the point when they put themselves on your radar, you’re running the risk that it’s almost too late. And again, that’s the big challenge that’s really facing you at the moment. And that’s what we’re gonna discuss as we go on through the next few slides.

So, just kind of continuing with this applicants and candidates, the distinction between passive and active is growing more and more blurred. And a lot of employees are open to new opportunities, much more open than they were in years gone by. Just at different degrees and there’s some interesting information from LinkedIn’s Talent that says that 15% of working professionals are surreptitiously starting to talk to their network, 45% are open to considering a new opportunity when approached by a recruiter. Add those together, you kind of got approachable passive candidates. You add them to the 25% that they’ve already said they’re actively looking for a job. And 85% of the global workforce should be considered fair game. And that’s the kind of shift in mentality and in terms of the recruiter it’s shifting the mentality from looking at people that are applying for jobs to really trying to hunt out and build longer term relationships with candidates to make them more receptive at the time that you have a vacancy to fill. But that’s great in theory. It’s obviously easier said than done. So, how do we actually start to tap into this pool of candidates who haven’t done anything to put themselves on your radar? How do we increase our chances of being successful when it comes to hiring top talent when we’re battling it out against our competitors? And this is really where building a strong employer brand comes into its own.

So, just kind of taking a step back to what makes a brand. Why do we refer to some companies as companies and other companies as a brand? And it really is this kind of sum-of-the-parts. It’s all of the elements which separate that company from something else. Sometimes we think of logo, is when we think of brands, the Nike swoosh. Other times we might think of their reputation. Sometimes it could be a sound. We all know the McDonald’s whistle at the end of the advert, and Intel, etc. But actually it could be employees, it could be lots of different things that come together that set one thing apart from another. But what it does, is it often enables those brands to stand out from their competitors. It enables them to keep going when economy takes a downturn because they’ve got the competitive edge. And I sometimes use the analogy that if you’re in Currys and you’re buying a new TV and you’re looking at a Sony, and next to it you’re looking at a TV which looks very similar from a Chinese brand you don’t know. Your gut’s screaming at you that they probably came out of the same factory. But if you could and sometimes budget won’t allow it and you have to go for the cheaper one, but in an ideal world, you’d probably go for the Sony because of recognition and trust.

And chances are it did come from the same factory. We know that personal brands can also be just as strong, so, probably the biggest example of this is Mr. Beckham on the left there who’s less famous for being a footballer than posing in his underpants. In the middle Jamie Oliver, is he the best chef in the world? No, he doesn’t have any Michelin stars but he’s worth 240 million pounds last year. Him and his wife were about to launch a range of children’s clothing. Is he qualified to design children’s clothing? I doubt it, but he’s done a great job of building a brand that people trust and that they can rely on. So, the principle applies to personal brands and exactly the same way it applies to employer brands.

So, what do we actually mean by that? Let’s kind of define and break it down. And this was a good definitional one that I personally like. Your employer brand is a direct reflection of your organization’s personality and how it’s perceived both internally and externally. It’s a simple sentence but communicating that authentically and to the right people at the right time is again obviously easier said than done. What should it do? Well, it should directly showcase what it’s like to work for you in order to attract the best talent. It should make your company both visible and credible. Now, this is critical. It’s no good being visible if you’re not credible and people don’t actually trust you. And equally, it’s no good being highly credible but no one knows you exist. So, you need to be seen as a leader in your field and the natural first choice destination for the top people, the top talent within that industry or sector.

That’s what your employer brand is all about. And importantly and we’ll come on and develop this a little bit further later on, it should raise the profile of thought leaders within your company, so, individuals, the humans behind the brand. It should showcase the caliber of those people. These are the people that new recruits would be working with or for and aspiring to be part of that team. So, it’s really important because again, when you’re looking at moving to a new position or a new role, part of that equation is the company, and the culture, etc. And part of it is the people that you’re gonna be surrounded with on a day-to-day basis makes the difference between you enjoying your job and being successful in it or not. Like any good brand, the key is knowing how you are unique, defining that and then flaunting it.

That’s so important. Just as we were talking about with the Sony TVs and the other well-known brands it builds recognition and trust. It creates loyalty and advocacy, so, that can be from your own staff that they’re the best advocates and the best… or key to helping you recruit is the advocacy and loyalty of your own staff. But also, it could be people who don’t work for you who can be advocates if they’re impressed with you and they recommend it to their friends. We know how much people, particularly with social media, like to have referrals, and testimonials, and lean on reviews, etc. Some of those might come from people who don’t actually work for you. Provides a mental short cut in the decision making process. When you put two brands next to each other or two companies next to each other, if they’ve recognized one, they trust it, then that’s gonna create that kind of shortcut in their mind. Obviously, it helps you stand out in a very competitive market which it is reinforces the reasons why talented people should want to come and work for you and then stay with your organization most importantly. And all of these things add up to giving you a competitive edge in this race for talent.

Here’s a few interesting, little stats here which we just wanted to include, again, which just reinforce this topic of why it’s so important. So, number one, most job changes are to companies that candidates already know. Kind of sounds obvious, but 66% of people who recently changed jobs were aware of the company by the first time they hear about the job. So, it wasn’t a case if they saw the job advert and then they thought well who’s that and go online and find out about them. The most successful companies, the client or the candidates already heard of them and knows about them before they see an advert. Again, not rocket science but most job seekers these days go online to find out information about you before they apply. The majority of jobs seekers, this is interesting, read at least six reviews before forming an opinion of the company.

So, if they’ve seen your job advert and quickly gone onto your website and that’s the first point of contact with you, your chances of recruiting them are gonna be greatly lessened over someone where they’ve already familiar with you and they can read reviews and they’ve had multiple touch points. And that’s the same in any form of marketing. Multiple touch points are required to influence people to make the decision and how they [inaudible 00:18:56]. Goes without saying that companies that have tarnished employer brands have to do something to kind of redress that balance and often higher salaries as incentives are the cost of doing that. The couple of stats and to leave their current job and being happy to take less pay or less of an increase to join an excellent company versus requiring a bigger jump in pay to go somewhere that had a bad reputation to kind of mitigate that risk, I guess.

Strong employer brand will help you to source… and the candidates said that they would consider leaving their current jobs if a company with an excellent reputation offered them another role. So, this is just warming people up and making them more receptive, more predisposed when you do actually either approach them directly or they see your advert. This is putting in the kind of hard time into building that relationship, but it pays off when you actually come to recruit. And majority of… in fact 80% in this survey, again with LinkedIn, agreed that employer brand has a significant impact on their ability to hire great talent. So, all of these things kind of come together to build this picture, that a strong employer brand is gonna help you right the way through the line in terms of your recruitment efforts. So, how do you actually go about doing that and obviously there are loads of ways that we can do it and particularly what we’re gonna concentrate on today is looking at how you can tell this story using content, sharing it through the channels or social media channels. And that’s where we’re going to spend our time.

Now, you could have argued this point, five or six years ago maybe, but today social media is most definitely not a fad, it needs to be something, it’s not considered to be optional, it needs to be embedded in your everyday recruitment activities. Now, that’s not to say that you drop everything else that you do. One of the things with social is that it takes time. It takes time to build traction. But as traditional methods start to tail off in their effectiveness, it’s no good waiting until the day that you suddenly realize they’ve stopped working completely and then start to jump ship across to social media and content. Because you’re gonna have this enormous hole for a period of time while you’re getting the traction going. So, you need to start building up these activities along [inaudible 00:21:35] there’s so many channels that you could be using, there’s so much that you can do but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right thing.

So, we’re gonna look at a few of the channels but the golden rule here really is, where is your audience hanging out? It’s not about what your favorite channels are, it’s about picking the channels where your audience can be found and then using content which is both appropriate for the audience and the channel. So, we’ll start to talk about that a little bit more over the next couple of slides, but it’s very, very easy to default to the channels that you feel comfortable with. Personally, I would never ever be hanging out on Twitter, so, shocking thing to admit from someone who does what I do. But Twitter is not my favorite place to go. But it’s really, really important because… for us as a business because that’s where our audience is. So, we use Twitter because it’s not about me.

So, [inaudible 00:22:42] Facebook’s becoming more and more important in the context of recruitment. There’s a quote here from Forbes, just backing that statement up that it’s an increasingly valuable tool, and it’s not just because of the numbers of people that are members of Facebook, it’s because of the tools which are built into Facebook, its capability for targeting people is pretty unrivaled really. So, it’s really [inaudible 00:23:09] for recruitment. The average person spends one out of every seven minutes that they’re online on Facebook, which is a pretty shocking stat. 52% of job seekers used Facebook to look for work, last year. The users say a brand’s Facebook page is more useful than its website when it comes to getting a feel for that company and the culture and what it’s like to work there. And again, your website, your main company website is there to sell the company from a product or services point of view. But sometimes even, if you have a dedicated career site, it can fall into the trap of being a kind of mini-me version of the corporate site, and it’s selling the kind of marketing messages but actually candidates as we know are more savvy, they’re behaving like consumers and they want to really get a feel for your company and what it’s all about and what it’s like to work there.

So, you need to be aware of that. And Facebook’s a way to do that. And 81% of job seekers want to see job opportunities posted to Facebook career pages. A great principle here is that you can tell people what it’s like to work for you until you are blue in the face. But if you show them, that’s the easiest way to communicate that. So, in videos particularly, a recent survey showed that if you just add a video icon to a job posting, it raises the view rate by 12% and the application rate by 34%, which is a really big number. So, Facebook can be great now with video, and imagery, and visual content. Obviously YouTube and Instagram are gonna be big players in this area. YouTube is one of the most used search engines in the world, up there with Google and video content is rapidly taking over in terms of the percentage of content which is viewed online.

But Instagram is often underutilized by companies and particularly in the recruitment sense. But it’s got 150 million active users and Instagram users are engaged, so, 70% log in at least once a day. And one of the common reasons that we find people are hesitant to use Instagram is that they still think it’s just a photo gallery. And they don’t necessarily have that, you know, loads and loads of photos and they want to explain, and they want to be able to post things, but actually some people don’t realize that there’s a 2,200 character limit, so, give or take 300 words that you can also use to accompany your imagery or your video. So, that’s really useful. And we found a lot of brands had great success from setting up a separate Instagram using the @careers tag on this. So, it’s again, it’s about appropriate content for the channel. You might be pushing out thought leadership content on LinkedIn if you’re a B2B brand. Instagram might be the place that you keep your lighter weight content, your images, your videos, your outside of work activities, the culture, the what it’s like to work here content. So, don’t, don’t rule out Instagram but whatever channels you’re using, this principle of not just telling people, showing people what it’s like to work for you is really, really important.

Okay, so moving on. Instagram in action. So, there’s just a couple examples which I pulled from our own Instagram and most definitely there as a recruitment tool. So, the guys making Christmas wreaths, some awards that we won, we won two years in a row, the happiest workplace, and we broadcast it, bake-offs, we were fortunate to work in a nice office space where we can go outside in the summer and have barbecues on a Friday lunchtime. These are all things which give people a feel for the culture of us as a business. And this has made a massive difference over the last couple of years in terms of our recruitment because, whereas probably three years ago we really struggled to find people, since we built up this kind of profile, we’re now finding that we get probably one or two CVs submitted every week through our website. So, actually people are starting to come to us. And when we do have to proactively go out to the market, they’re much more likely to say, “Oh, yeah, I’ve heard of you, aren’t you the guys with the chickens,” or whatever it is that they have to say.

So, it really starts to build personality and give people a feel for, okay, I know what the job is but what does it actually feel like to work in this place on a day-to-day basis and that’s what you’re trying to communicate, something more emotive that makes them want to work for you as opposed to just do their job for whoever wants to employ them. So, that’s what Instagram can do for you. A really important thing that we mentioned earlier on is not just building the employer brand from the company perspective, but it’s humanizing that by bringing out key individuals within the company. Because people engage with people, particularly LinkedIn is a classic example of this company pages on LinkedIn really struggle to get engagement and interaction. It’s the personal profiles and the same with Twitter where people would actually engage with them, as opposed to you just broadcasting information and kind of shouting at people.

So, I picked out a couple of examples here. The reason I picked out this example is because Christine’s done a great job at building up her personal profile. Christine is a recruitment, runs a recruitment business. Now you guys will deal with lots of recruiters. Every day, the good ones are up against the quite justifiably bad reputation of the industry as a whole and it makes it very difficult for them both in terms of engaging on social media with potential clients and candidates, and also recruiting for themselves. And you will know as well as anybody that generally speaking, if you’re looking at your social media feed particularly on LinkedIn, if you see a recruitment consultant pop up in your timeline, the chances are they’re either asking you if you’ve got a vacancy or asking you if you’re interested in a job that they’ve got on. You don’t see too much else. And what Christine has done is over a period of time is to build up a profile as a leader in business of particularly, as a woman in business.

She’s writing heavyweight content, so, some of the content in the example she used here was writing about mental health which is quite an emotive topic. And she was quite scared about going there. And whether somebody with depression can thrive in a fast-paced sales environment. And she wrote this article, it picked up about 1,500 views in about 48 hours the evening post in Bristol picked it up. And within days, she started to see an upturn in CVs being submitted for their own recruitment processes. But also it helped them with candidates and clients as well. So, this is just an example of some of the kind of bucking the trend and fighting back against the kind of reputation within this industry to elevate themselves personally, and her company is benefiting from that.

The next example, and this is a campaign that my company put together and we’re working with them on. So, River Island have a careers site, and they are currently recruiting for a lot of highly technical software developers. Now, if you are a specialist software developer and some of the skill sets that they’re recruiting for I’ve literally never heard of, that’s how niche they are, River Island is probably not high on your list of… or your wish list of destinations. You’re probably not thinking of them in terms of cutting edge and technology. But actually they’ve made massive investments over the last couple of years and are pretty revolutionary in the way that they’re doing it. But in order to kind of reinforce all of these messages, not only is the brand and the company position in itself as a leader in this area, but they’re picking out individuals within the business to back that up. So, on the left you’ll see the example their head of architecture.

He’s a pretty aspirational guy, he comes across really well on video, he speaks well, and he’s got some pretty out-there views as you can see from the title of his topic, Enterprise Architects are Dead. But they’re pushing the individual as opposed to River Island writing an article about enterprise architects, it has no personality in their engagement. They’re producing video where you get to meet members of the team. So, it’s really starting to push the people that you would aspire to work alongside. And the company, behind those people benefits from their credibility. So, it works in both directions. So, really encourage you to think about this. Think about the people within your business and positioning them as thought leaders also.

One quick slide about mobile. A recent survey said that 40% candidates research the employer and read the job description on their mobile 15 minutes before the interview. And yet, this is [inaudible 00:33:11] stat, but… A year or so ago, only 20% of Fortune 500 companies had a mobile-optimized career site. So if you have a dedicated career site, don’t let it be the kind of poor relation to your main site which is what sometimes happens. It kind of gets thrown up, it’s got some jobs on it, but there’s no real investment. Think about making your career site a real destination for people to keep them engaged but also make sure there’s mobile optimized. If you don’t, you really do run the risk that you’re missing a trick. And this again comes back into the subject of being available to people in the format that they want you to be available at the time when they want you to be available. So, if that’s in the back of a taxi on the way to an interview or not on the way to an interview but on a mobile phone, and they get to your site and they can’t read it, and it’s all jumped out of format, it reflects on you as a business and it makes it harder for them to really engage with you and form this opinion of you, so really important to think about mobile optimization.

Okay. So, most of what we’ve been talking about there is talking about building awareness, building perception, this is a great place to be and getting that word out there both as a company and also the individuals within it. We’re gonna kind of get slightly more granular now and talk about the actual nuts and bolts of using these tools to build a talent pool. So, if it’s done right, social media can help you identify and grow an audience that’s made up of candidates that match your target criteria. And it can then help you convert that audience into advocates and potential future employees. That’s a big statement, but it’s all possible given time and given consistent effort that social can deliver all this to you. We’ll look at some specifics here. So, it can help you identify candidates and we, again, we use candidates rather than applicants and build a talent pool. So, social let’s you, if you remember that chart with the sweet spot, social lets you start to identify people that could be great to work for you long before the point where they’ve made the decision that they want to leave where they are and start taking action.

So, this is how you start to engage with people before they’ve put themselves on your radar. It can help you build your visibility and your credibility within that talent pool. It can help you proactively get onto their radar and warm them up. So, they’re more receptive at the point when you reach out to them or when they see a job advert, or the holy grail is if they apply to you directly. It helps you maintain relationships with them when they aren’t actively looking for a job as we just mentioned. And cement your position as someone that they’d like to work or when the time is right. And then when you need to hire, you’ve got an engaged talent pool that’s ready for outreach.

We’re gonna look at a couple of specifics now. Now, what we’re not gonna do here is because we’ll be here all day is to get into a master class on all the different ways you can do this in social and then show you what buttons you push next and in what order. But there’s some practical stuff here that you could take away. So, lots of you will probably be using LinkedIn, you might be using recruiter tools, and you may or may not be aware of LinkedIn Sales Navigator. Sales Navigator has advanced search functionality which lets you identify potential candidates. So, you can search by location, their function, their seniority, typical job titles, you can use keywords, you can put in specific companies if you’re looking to headhunt. And it will bring in every LinkedIn member regardless of their connections to you that matches that criteria. You’re able to view their full profile and you can save them as a, it’s called a lead because it’s primarily designed as a sales tool, but you can still use it in a talent pooling function. So, you can save those off as a lead. Now, normally when you log into LinkedIn and you will probably have noticed this the same as I have, you login to LinkedIn and the first thing you see is your timeline which over the last year or so has got noisier, and noisier, and noisier, and frankly, kind of more and more full up with rubbish.

Yeah, by the time you’ve waded through the inspirational quotes of the day, and recruitment consultants, etc., it gets quite tough to see the wood for the trees. What Navigator does is all of these people that you’ve saved as a lead, it puts them into a separate area and ring fences them away from your normal LinkedIn timeline. When you then go to your Navigator Timeline, all of the activity that you see is only from people that you have decided, you would like to keep an eye on, and you’d like to monitor, and you’d like to engage with. So, you can see every time they post something, every time they like, share, comment on somebody else’s, you can see if they move jobs, you can see work anniversaries, and it’s all in one place. It’s really quick and efficient to start building these kind of low-level relationships just by every time you like, if you, if you like something or you re-share or you join the comments. They see your post or your comment, they see you pop up in the timeline, and you’ll see your profile views, etc., go up with that. So, enables you to just interact in a completely natural way and get on these guys’ radar and look for the natural time then to dial up the conversation to it to the more [inaudible 00:39:03].

Twitter lists also help you categorize potential candidates. So, in Twitter you can search for people with the certain job title, location, etc. And by building a list, that screens not very clear, my apologies for that, but you can save lists however you want to categorize them. And the beauty of that, again, is that you can go into a list and all you see is activity from the people that you saved into that list. Making it really easy for you to like, re-tweet, comment, follow them, if they follow back you can direct message them. It’s just ways of building a relationship with people over time and keeping a pool of people that you’re at varying stages of warming up or engagement. You can utilize social search tools. I mean, there are so many of these out there. Unfortunately it is a almost full-time job keeping up with every new app and every new tool that says it will change your life. The key with these is really looking at what functionality it gives you and making sure that you don’t waste time playing around with things just because they’re there, and they’re cool, and shiny as opposed to using the tools that really benefit you. We just picked out one example here which is called Follower Wonk and they tend to have bizarre names like this. There’s a premium version but even just the free version lets you search people’s Bios for job titles. So, for example, the example on the screen here, I did a search for HTML 5 developers.

It’s important that you tick the box that says “search Twitter bios only” as opposed to the mentioning the word develop anywhere on their feed. And that will bring in people that have got that job title. What’s interesting is if you look at the, any one of those profiles there, and look at the columns on the right-hand side, it shows you how many people they’re following and who’s following them, and allows you to click through and see those people. Particularly if you’re recruiting in niche areas, a lot of these job roles, they will follow people with similar roles and be followed by people with similar roles, they form communities. So, if you find one, if you can then access everyone that they follow and everyone that follows them, you’re gonna find more people that match that criteria and you can disappear off down a rabbit hole following and looking at those people. But it’s just an example of the kind of tools that you can use to really get into the nuts and bolts of building a talent pool. And through all of this, this is the thing you wanna be keep is to have a pool of talented candidates who already know you, they already like you, they already trust you, and actually they like the idea of working for you when the time is right. If you can do that, then every Monday morning when you go into work your day job is gonna be that much easier when it comes to interacting. These people are gonna be warmed up and more receptive to what you do, you will have more focus, and that’s gotta be good for you and for your efforts to recruit the right people. I think you’d agree.

Okay. So, changing tack slightly just for the last few minutes. All of that’s great in theory and then the first thing that particularly HR teams struggle with is, well, what are we saying? How do we actually keep all of this afloat? And unless you’ve got a content strategy behind it then there’s no point in having Instagram, or a Facebook, or LinkedIn, or any of these things if you’ve got nothing to say and it’s just empty and, you know, just like at the party and nobody turned up basically. So, how do you do it? Well, as we mentioned, this is a massive topic all on its own. We just gonna [inaudible 00:43:02]. So, a sustainable plan will probably combine content designed to say these two things. One, this is a place where you’d like to work. So, you know us, you like us, you trust us. And two, some people that you’d like to work with or work for because you know them, and you like them, and you trust them. It’s a very simple principle. So, whether that’s company or individuals, you’re looking for content which is gonna be entertaining, which is gonna show off the culture, give them a feel for what it’s like to work there, it’s also gonna build credibility and trust. So, you need a range of content from lighter weight stuff that shows, you know, in our case the staff having a barbecue on a Friday, through to thought leadership content that says, well, it’s not all just fun and games, we’re actually really credible, and we’re experts, and we know what we’re doing. And you wanna build that for both the company and key individuals within it.

How do you do that? Well, here’s a very quick plan which you could steal and populate yourselves. Curated content, what we mean by that is topical relevant content from credible third-party sources. So, build yourself a Twitter list of industry publications that tweet regularly, so that you can very quickly just re-tweet or share their content through your channels. And it keeps things ticking along through the day, keeps those kind of channels active and populated with very little effort and you haven’t had to produce your own content. If you can top and tail it or introduce it in some way, ask a question, make a statement as to whether you agree with it or not, fantastic. That just shows that you’ve taken a little bit more care and attention. So, that’s curated content. That will be your most regular content. Created content obviously takes a bit more time and effort because by definition you’ve got to actually [inaudible 00:45:04].

Level one. So, your most frequent content. Similar to the curated, you can look for topical content that’s already out there in the public domain. It’s not original thought, but it is relevant to what you do. And you can re-purpose it. You can take something from a credible source, you can top and tail it, summarize the article, add a few words of your own, and it will read like an opinion piece that’s supported by something from a credible mutual source. Great way of keeping this, your blog or whatever it might be, ticking along with your own original content, shows that you’re plugged into your industry and you have a voice, but with very little impact, or the least impact on your time and resource.

Level two. Lightweight, “this is a great place to work,” content. So, internal news, awards, people getting promotions, PR, away days, whatever it might be. Anything that kind of builds up that feeling. Again, in the real world you can’t be everywhere with your camera at every given minute. So, I would be looking to enlist key people within the business and get their buy-in to helping keep a steady supply of this content coming to you and making you aware of things that you should be aware of. Did you know this is gonna be happening this afternoon? Can someone come down and take a photograph? But just a few key people and key departments that are brought into it and can help kind of keep that thing ticking along makes a massive difference.

And then level three, which would be probably your least frequent because it’s the hardest to produce, would be your heavyweight content. So some thought leadership. Things that position both the company and key members of the team as experts in their field. If you could use that framework and produce a calendar where you start to just drop things into it, that will give you a starting point. So, that’s how you can put together a sustainable content plan that’s going to drive all of this activity. And again, what you’re aiming for is to try and build this pool of people who know you, like you, trust you, and you’ve engaged with them and they’ve warmed, been warmed up over a period of time.

So, hopefully that resonates, makes some sense, there was an awful lot of information there obviously, so, we’ve done a whistle-stop tour of the topic. But I’m sure that there will be some stuff in there that you’ll be able to take away and we’re going to open it up for some questions. But if you can just bear with me and I’m gonna just hand the reigns back over to David.

David: Ben, thank you very much for that. The first one for you, Ben, will be whether

LinkedIn Sales Navigator and Twitter lists comply with the GDPR. [crosstalk 00:48:00]

Ben: The actual answer to that is there’s quite a bit of confusion around it. But the answer is it depends on how you use it and Navigator won’t let you, for example, download information. So, you don’t actually hold any of that information. So, within Navigator you’ve just got… all you’re literally doing is saving profiles which are in the public domain, which you’re able to view. So, there’s no actual data being held away from LinkedIn service or on your machine or you’ve not got their personal details, etc. And it’s exactly the same thing with Twitter, it’s a social media channel, anything which is within that Twitter list is out there in the public domain, it’s not being held as data that falls under GDPR. LinkedIn used to have some functionality where you could download some of this data, they’ve removed that recently. I’m sure that part of that is because they’re aware of GDPR and varying similar programs in the States, and North America, etc, that were a couple of years ahead of the UK on that front. So, as long as you’re not taking a whole load of this data off and you’re holding it on your servers then you should be okay. But it is a big old topic.

Dave: Yeah. I would also be very surprised if LinkedIn or Twitter haven’t considered this and have actively changed their terms of service or terms of use that people are agreeing to when they use their tools. Okay. Thank you. Someone else’s asked, how do you recommend dealing with bad reviews on websites like Glassdoor and Google? And how can they encourage good reviews?

Ben: Yes, the double-edged sword of being able to have reviews online. The reality is that you want to encourage good reviews within your business and there are a number… It depends on how you’re set up as a business as to how kind of directly or overtly you try to elicit that, this from people within the business. I think we’ve had experience with a couple of clients who have been quite overt with their staff about saying, at least drawing to their attention that there is a recruitment drive on, this is all part of the success of the business, so there’s a very positive spin and part of what they can do to help support that is that they can put positive reviews if they feel that they would like to do so. There is a line to be crossed… to be drawn here where you obviously don’t want to be seen, or for people to feel like they’re being put under pressure. And we have heard of people literally incentivizing their staff to do this, and I wouldn’t recommend that. But certainly, engaging with certain key individuals and making them feel it’s this thing about advocacy. If you genuinely have a good culture and it genuinely is a good place to work, then you should have good advocates and just making them aware that they can support your recruitment efforts in this way should be enough. Nothing’s gonna make up for the fact that if you’re trying to bluff your way through and getting people to recommend working there, when actually you have a bad culture and it’s a bad place to work, that’s not gonna help you much.

In terms of overcoming bad reviews, I think to be honest with you, the main advice I would have is not to kind of ignore them and hope they go away. But if there is a way of responding to them, respond. And the best way to bury a bad review is to push it off the page with good ones. And if there’s enough, if there’s enough weight of good reviews out there, again, people aren’t stupid, if you’re looking at 20 good reviews and lots of good stuff about a company, and then this one report or review kind of just jars and doesn’t feel right. People can draw their own conclusions about what might have driven or the motives behind that review. We’ve had it ourselves. We’ve generally had really good reviews and not from an employee, but from a ex-client, posted on Facebook, about the breakdown in the communication. And then obviously the reason for it was that they didn’t pay their bill for eight months, and then they wrote a terrible review on us when we eventually, it worked its way through and we sent people in to try and reclaim the money. So, we knew that story. But we kind of rose above it and we responded and we said look, we’re really, really sorry, and over a period of time he disappeared because there was other good reviews online.

Dave: Okay. Great stuff. Thank you. We’ve had a few different people ask essentially the same thing along the lines of actually, how do they get started on social media in the first place? I think a few people feel that in order to be taken seriously and to start engaging with people, they need to reach a critical mass of followers in the first place.

Ben: Yeah, again, there is…the honest truth is there is an element of that because if you’re out there it’s catch-22 when you’re starting out in that, it’s very hard to attract followers when they’re going to be the first one to the party. And until you’ve got an element of credibility then it kind of really holds you back. There isn’t a shortcut to that, but there are shortcuts, so, you can buy a load of rubbish followers and we would never recommend doing that. I think it’s about quality of content in that situation that helps to kind of fight back against the fact that you’re relatively new on the channel. In terms of where you start as in the physical process with deciding how to get started, it’s all about as I mentioned earlier, picking the right channel for your audience and then making the content appropriate for that channel. But the quality of your content is the thing that’s gonna get you by in those early days. And it is tough. It does take time to get traction. And Twitter particularly is really hard to get the ball rolling and then it just suddenly reaches a point where it seems to just take on a life of its own. Instagram exactly the same thing. It suddenly reaches a point, where you just don’t know where these followers are coming from, and it’s that critical mass. The honest truth is there is no shortcut to that. It’s just the way that it is and if you kind of a little bit late to the party with social, you just need to get stuck in and really ramp up your activity and your efforts, and be engaging and kind of proactive as well if you just post a bit, stick a bit of content out there and sit back and wait for people to come. That’s gonna take you that much longer. But if you start actually engaging with people, engage with their content, comment on stuff, like stuff, thank them for it. You’re much more likely to pick up followers in that way because you’re being likeable and you’re being engaging. It will gradually get there but it does take time. There’s no honest way around that.

Dave: Yeah. Okay. Thank you. And somebody’s asked, how they could get their marketing teams on board to help them execute this plan?

Ben: That’s the…there is a question that we hear quite a lot because this is a great example of where kind of, you know, some people, organizations, the HR function will have a kind of marketing person or marketing element to it. Other times, they’re gonna be reliant on marketing to help them. I think there is a real relationship here that needs to be understood where, if a place is projecting an image of a really good place to work and people like the culture, there is a knock-on effect that benefits the marketing team in terms of people being more responsive to actually buying products and services from it. The example, the recruiter that I used in the slides, that was designed to make them look like a better place to work but they picked up clients from it, because the client rang up and said, well you look like the sort of business that we’d like to do business with. So, I think, don’t be afraid of the fact that there is a link between somewhere being, having a great culture and it being a great place to work, and people wanting to buy from it. And there’s lots of examples of brands out there now where they’re marketing, their main marketing campaign is actually about them as a business and their social responsibility or corporate responsibility, and the culture, and the place, is as much to do with the marketing activity as the product or the service. So, I think that’s a way that you can kind of try to sell it in. It has benefits and ultimately, yeah, happy staff and bringing in new staff, they’re all people that are more likely to go out and buy product as well. So, they are linked together and people need to see it that way.

Dave: Yeah, I agree. I think there shouldn’t really be a disconnect between the brand that the organization is trying to project to the wider public, and the reality of the brand of the organization for the employees, because if there is, if you’re trying to project this image of a wonderful caring organization but the reality when you work there is it’s a really horrible place to work and nobody gets along and it’s all… everyone’s backstabbing one another, you’re going to have a load of very disengaged employees.

Ben: Yes.

Dave: I think a lot of the time marketing teams are going to be focused on things that maybe that they just are under a lot of pressure to deliver and whatever it is. But, perhaps helping the sales team to hit certain sales targets for the organization and simply having somebody from HR just bring this to their attention. There’s a whole wealth of knowledge and experience that the marketing team will be able to provide.

Ben: Yeah, absolutely.

Dave: We’ve got time for one more question. potentially a bit of a sticky one here. So, if we were to encourage certain individuals in the business to be thought leaders and use their LinkedIn page to promote and represent the company, where do we stand on ownership of the LinkedIn account and essentially the database of contacts being built up in there? I’ll leave that one to you, Ben.

Ben: No. Again, there’s no point in fudging this one. The great thing, or the downside depending on how you look at it, is people’s LinkedIn profile stays with them. So, there is an element here of being careful who you’re raising as thought leaders but, you know, equally enjoying it while it lasts and benefiting from it while it lasts. There are things that you can do obviously in terms of social policies that can be put in place particularly if someone is directly using one of their social channels for work related or in a work related context, that can help you at least have some control over what they’re saying. So it kind of gives you a little bit of control in terms of them being too controversial or posting stuff that they shouldn’t be posting, as opposed to their own personal Twitter account, but the reality is that if they move on there’s not much that you can do. Obviously, if you’re paying for a premium license, etc., other than the fact that you’re not gonna keep paying it for them. But unfortunately they do take their profile with them. There’s no way to get around that.

Dave: Okay. Great. Thank you very much. And thank you everyone who’s attended. And a huge thank you to Ben, for his work on his presentation. There’s a ton of actionable insights there and I found it very enjoyable. So, a huge thank you, Ben. Thank you very much, everyone.

Ben: Cheers.

CIPHR webinar – How social media and content marketing techniques can enhance your employer brand

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CIPHR head of marketing, David Richter and Ben Hollom, founder at M2Bespoke explain how deploying social media and content marketing techniques can enhance your employer brand.

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